Your hormones are so important when it comes to Endometriosis. I don’t personally believe they were the cause of developing Endometriosis but their imbalance will certainly impact on how we feel and how much our Endometriosis grows and worsens. Your hormones control so many aspects of your health and how you feel emotionally that it is crucial to find out where they are at – even if your approach on how to deal with the imbalance is different to what doctors might recommend.
Here are some signs that your hormones could be out of balance:
- Feeling alone, lost or disconnected
- Cold hands and feet
- Bleeding gums
- Breast tenderness
- Lethargy, tiredness – feeling “flat”
- Bone and joint pain
- Weight issues
- Fluid retention/ abdominal bloating
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of libido
These might sound like minor symptoms but they illustrate an imbalance. Imbalances need to be resolved or we inevitably have a reaction within the body we simply don’t want.
So, how do we test our hormones accurately?
I am not sure why but many doctors and gynaecologists will often test hormones through our blood. This is simply not effective… let me explain why:
Hormones are fat-soluble in their nature. They sit in the fat cells in our bodies. Blood tests only measure the serum of the blood, which is water-soluble. To accurately measure where your hormones are at, you really need to do a saliva test. This measures your active or bioavailable hormones.
I did my saliva test through a company called Patient Advocates in Tauranga – great if you live in New Zealand. If you live elsewhere, you can usually find a good laboratory that will do it for you. It is typically a progesterone test you are looking for. There are other tests you can order online through the well respected Dr John Lee’s site: http://www.johnleemd.com/store/prod_stest.html.
Depending on your budget, you can get the whole lot tested but a progesterone-only test will give you a fair idea. There is also a question-based test, through Dr John Lee’s site, which will give you an indication on whether your hormones are in balance or not.
Here are the steps, which I was given to do my saliva test:
- Test your saliva on the 19th, 20th or 21st day of your cycle. So, counting the first day of your period as day 1, count it out until day 20. It is just after ovulation you are aiming for. A good measure is also to check your mucous levels – sorry to be graphic but when the white mucous stuff that you get with ovulation slows down or stops, this is when you want to test your hormone levels. You are supposed to have a peak of both oestrogen and progesterone during that time – the Luteal phase. I notice it because my mood changes – but you might have to be aware of this, having watched your cycle patterns over a few months to really notice this one.
- Test it about an hour after you wake up and when you haven’t had anything to drink or eat for at least 30 minutes.
- Spit in lots of saliva, so they can get an accurate reading.
- Courier the saliva test to the respective lab or get it there as quickly as possible.
I got my test results back the other day and they seemed fairly easy to read. What you need to understand about reading it is to match the time of month you did the test with the results you were given. My test indicated that for the Luteal phase, which is the period we would be measuring, the normal range for progesterone should be higher than 1.0 nmol/L. (this was based on me being premenopausal).
My results came back as 1.2 nmol/L! This is good but still on the low side. I am just within the “normal” range and still suffer from some of the symptoms as indicated on the list above and in the free test above.
Your results will vary depending on many, many things. EVERYTHING influences your hormone levels and they can change from month to month, which is why it is good to test these regularly or be very aware of your symptoms according to the list above. Your diet, your stress levels, your environment, your exercise levels, how many drugs you have been taking, where you live… all of it influences your hormone levels.
Okay, so where to from here?
I am going to explore some progesterone creams. To be honest, I am a little hesitant about the idea and want to really understand how this works. I have bought Dr. John Lee’s book: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause: The Breakthrough Book on Natural Progesterone and so far it is incredibly informative! It is of course a given that we use the right progesterone cream that is totally natural and not synthetic in nature – in any way. But I want to understand how it works, why it works and most importantly for how long we need to take it. As you probably know, if you have been reading my blog for a while, I am not a fan of taking anything long-term and don’t believe our hormone imbalance is the cause of Endometriosis. It is a symptom of the condition. However, I can see the merits in regulating our hormones to put other aspects in our bodies back in balance, which will aid our healing on a long-term basis.
If you have tried progesterone creams and have some knowledge in this area, please feel free to share as I am always curious to hear other women’s experiences. If you have any questions on the saliva test, feel free to ask me and I will share my experience with you.